Unanswered questions on state's decision to drop Health Alliance for retirees

Oct 4, 2013

The head of one Illinois retirees group says there are many unanswered questions regarding the state’s recent decision to remove Health Alliance from its list of Medicare providers in 2014. Linda Brookhart is the executive director of the State Universities Annuitants Association, which advocates for higher education retirees. She expects delays in setting up relationships with new doctors, since those currently on Health Alliance can’t use Carle Hospital, and may have to travel as far as Springfield for care.  

Retirees are now being asked to apply for Medicare Advantage plans with Aetna Life, Humana Health, Humana Benefit or United Healthcare. And Brookhart says there’s no way of even knowing the level of care will be same:

“People do not feel that they have had enough time to make that decision, and since the plan itself is not rolled out yet, they don’t know what the plan consists of.  And if you talk comparable, what is comparable?  What is the definition of comparable to what they have now?”

In 2011, the state dropped Health Alliance contracts for retirees and current employees, prompting an uproar among legislators and court hearings that led to the decision being reversed.  

Brookhart says she’s heard no response from the state as to why it’s happening again for retirees, but is confident legislators will address the issue in the fall veto session late this month.